- Maddie Meyer/Getty
The NBA is a constantly evolving league.
Twenty years ago, teams frequently played slow, post-up-heavy offense, with fewer 3-pointers and more physical defense. Now, many teams play small, fast, spaced-out offenses, focusing on pick-and-rolls and 3-pointers.
In 10 years, however, the NBA could look completely different, at least according to Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens, who runs a forward-thinking, modern-style Celtics team, appeared on Monday’s episode of “The Ringer NBA Show” with Bill Simmons and was asked what the league may look like down the road. Stevens said he thought the NBA was dictated by its best players and their skills, meaning teams must adjust to their toughest competition.
“I think the game will always be dependent on the players that are at its most elite level at that time,” Stevens said. He continued:
“If you have an era where you have a [Wilt] Chamberlain and [Bill] Russell and people like that, then everybody’s going to have to scheme or find people to account for those guys. And when you have this current focus on skill and spacing and speed and everything else, it’s gonna take a pretty special group of players to change the way the game is played.”
Stevens did say he found that speed wins over the course of a game and that the math behind taking more 3-pointers is difficult to dispute.
But as he and Simmons discussed, the league is at a point where there are so many skilled ball-handlers and shooters that teams frequently must adjust to this style to keep up. Unlike the ’90s, when the league was dominated by big men like Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal, teams now must employ players who can spread the floor, handle the ball, and defend multiple positions.
“Inevitably, everybody will be forced to play a little bit differently if multiple great low-post players are back in the game,” Stevens said before noting that many kids don’t grow up learning to play in the post much anymore.
Much in the same way that Stephen Curry has become a game-changing force, it may take only one or two great big men to make the NBA reverse course.